Before commencing, check out the inspirational music that gave birth to this article here. It's by a jazzy glitchy artist named "5 am" and promoted by Seattle based record label Elliptic Audio Research. I decided to interview one of the label founders Dustin Ray and what ensued was a very open and honest conversation about the label practices. Fingers crossed that the universe helps us to bring one of their artists to Singapore some day.
Rupak: How did u come up with the name elliptic audio research?
Dustin: Great Question! We are very avid bitcoin and cryptocurrency supporters and have been funding the label using these new financial tools that empower users to control their own money. The underlying mechanism of Bitcoin is Elliptic Curve Cryptography which helps keep all transactions secure. We thought since the label was being funded this way, using that word would be a good fit. And E.A.R. as a name for a music label seemed appropriate :)
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are a new form of money that exists only the internet. You can use to pay for goods and services, or hold it as a store of value. The main benefit of cryptocurrency is that it is not owned or managed by any one person or company, but by everyone who uses the software. you can only use the software if you have the same version as everyone else, making it hack proof. Governments cannot manipulate it, and criminals cannot counterfeit it.
Rupak: How / Why did ear come about to exist? What sort of a gap in the music market are u trying to fill?
Dustin: EAR originally was started as a different label that only catered to very spiritual ambient music that was highly polarized in genre. We are attempting to bring attention to underground artists who have a new and different sound than anything that has been done before. Bringing new, unheard and well produced music to people makes us very excited!
Rupak: Tell us more about the current team that runs this entity, how many are you, what does everyone do, are you guys a bunch of food friends or a company that has been organically coming together bit by bit.
Dustin: There are 3 senior research associates that manage EAR. Dustin Ray/Myself founded the label and handles financial details and planning, Alec Corn Cobb handles artist relations and bookings, and Trevor Wakem is the stage and production lead design engineer. We all have creative directions that we steer the label in individually and function really well as a team.
Rupak: I discovered ear through soundcloud where I loved listening to 5am. How did u find Sam Andrus and how did a working relationship materialise?
Dustin: 5am is really awesome, good find! Sam is good friends with another artist that we work with named Asteroids and Earthquakes. They are all from the east coast and have consistently been delivering high quality productions since we have worked with them. Sam and David are really awesome people and were happy to release their works with us.
Rupak: What is the process involved to become an ear artist or How do u select artists?
Dustin: We listen to anything that gets sent to us and if it meets the quality standard that we have set, we are happy to get it out. We cover charges for mastering, distribution, and artwork as well!
Rupak: What is the distribution model?
Dustin: We do not distribute the music onto our own channels. You will in spotify and bandcamp that many artists release music through their own account and then give credit to the label that helped fund it. We use a service that places music onto services such as itunes, bandcamp and spotify.
Rupak: Can u share any details about how the financial cut between ear and an artist works?
Dustin: We do something a little different than most underground labels, which is pay our artists. With money. Im serious. So we currently offer a flat 600$ payment for an accepted EP and 1000$ for an accepted LP. Eps are 4-6 tracks and LPs are 8 tracks, no more no less. We do not sell the music for you, however we disable downloads and direct listeners to your bandcamp or any platform you desire where they can pay to download your art if they want. We ask that all EAR releases are only released with EAR and sold through your channels, but you may not release the works with any other label or through your own channels at any time.
We do not sell any of our artists music currently. Our model allows us to compensate an artist for their work, release it through our soundcloud streaming account. The artist sells their own music through their bandcamp which we help promote.
Rupak: Correct me if i'm confused, but the model here is EAR buys an album and places it on the EAR bandcamp / website. Then the artist has to promote and sell the album via the ear bandcamp or website. Is this right?
Dustin: No, the artist places the work on their own bandcamp and we direct listeners to it through their soundcloud. That way the artist can keep all of the funds that they make and we do not have to worry about calculating royalties. You have to understand that we are very small and profits made from sales of music on bandcamp are usually very small at this point. It is not currently worth it for us to try and take a piece of that from an artist because the amounts coming in are not worth the time and effort for us.
Rupak: How does an artist from Singapore in general get connected to be an ear artist?
Dustin: We are happy to work with anyone in the world :D Send a demo to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will review it and start a connection with you as soon as we can.
Rupak: How do u promote yourselves and your artists?
Dustin: Our method so far has been to book artists that we like and show them the best possible time we can. Word spreads quickly when you treat people right and show respect for artists who are bringing a solid production to the table. We only work with people who have great attitudes and are fun to be around, this is the best way to keep getting booked for events in general.
We exist primarily on soundcloud. But we have a presence on facebook as well and are working to construct an official website at this time. We are very new and busy so this may take awhile :)
Rupak: Do u guys organise events or partner with other events for your artists?
Dustin: We have started to host a few small events in the area but we mainly focus on the social media presence and label aspect. Alec has a weekly event in Olympia, WA that brings a great variety of people and artists out, and so he is the one doing most of the shows.
Rupak: "Bring you the future of sound, live from the underground" - i realise underground can have a very different definition depending on what sort of a music industry your living in. How does EAR characterise music or an artist as being underground? What sort of checkboxes have to be ticked for that?
Dustin: Thats a good point. Underground to us means artists that are making sounds that are true to themselves and not trying to fit into a pre-defined box of what "sounds good". We enjoy hearing things that no one has ever heard before, especially if you can dance to it!
Rupak: How would you describe the underground scene in Seattle?
Dustin: The underground in Seattle is, pretty weird right now. Seattle is known for its music but it is undergoing a shift at the moment that is difficult to describe. There is a good presence for mainstream pop and indie music, Sub Pop lives here and continues to find solid acts, and house/techno has always been huge up here and continues to be. Cascadia festival does a great job of bringing the underground up, but there are not many other events that pay attention to bass music and downtempo styles/glitch hop. That is a void that we are trying to fill, hopefully before someone else does wiht lesser intentions....
Rupak: The music market changes so much everyday it's ridiculous. What are some of the most difficult challenges u have to overcome in the local global market?
Dustin: People getting polarized towards a certain genre is always disappointing. The audience may be split along lines such as thinking that only their style of music is "good". We are attempting to get people out of their shells and keep an open mind when experiencing different styles. I know far too many bass heads who say techno sucks, and i know far too many technoheads who say bass music sucks, when really each genre is just a different flavor. Some people like chocolate ice cream, some people like vanilla. But just because you dont like vanilla doesnt mean you have to talk about it badly. EAR tries to release accessible music that anyone can listen to. We have historically been geared towards downtempo music but are reaching out to organizations such as Cascadia festival and friends in order to widen our musical palette.
Rupak: Any future plans or artists we should look out for?
Dustin: We are hosting a showcase event that we are very proud of in Montana in july with the Pirate Party/Headyworks Crew. THey are good friends are we are excited to bring a solid production. We are hoping to get a compilation released with as many of these artists as possible represented.
Rupak: Any plans to bring your artists to this side of the world?
Dustin: Heck yeah! We would love to get some of our people over for an event some time, and we are really excited to see the you develop the culture in your area. Thanks so much for everything you do and keep us posted! terima kasih!
Thank you so much for reading. Tune in to some of the amazing music promoted by Elliptic Audio Research here